Sunday, August 25, 2019


The Bushwhackers

See folklorist John Meredith talk with Philip Ashton about the early days of the original Bushwhackers band and many other topics at:

Phillip also interviewed folk dance doyenne, Shirley Andrews. You can download your own copy from here:

Jan Fallding has set up a Facebook page for those who knew John Meredith and travelled with him. Have a look

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Mystery Songs Sought by Bush Music Club

Sandra Nixon is tracking down some historical songsheets in the  BMC archives and has encountered a few puzzles for all the folksong sleuths out there. Sandra writes:

Bush Music Club Archives contains many treasures, including a collection of early songsheets, some issued by BMC, other collected & typed up by a very early member, Fran Shaw who sang these newly collected songs, lectured about them & taught them. Some sheets are dated (1956-1961), but most are undated.

All songsheets have been scanned & are posted in 5 blog articles. Foolscap pages will be scanned again by a member with an A3 scanner!

I've been trying to locate the book where Fran found the following songs mentioned in Part 3. I've looked through Ron Edwards's books & John Meredith's Folksongs of Australia, & asked around but no-one recognises these songs, or knows this early book of more than 281 pages.

Can anyone identify them, the author/s or the book?

Another Gundagai, page 7
Concertina Jack, page 76
The Immortal Dog, page 239
The Reformers, 
(about speakers in Sydney Domain, Billy Hughes is mentioned)  page 245
The Woolshed Ball, page 249
The Wedding at Willaroo, page 281

From the Archives - mixed Blessings of an Archivist - Mulga Wire, no.112, Singabout insert

Fran Shaw's Songsheets - Part 1, Bush Music Club Song Sheets, dated 1956 & 1957, & undated  

Anniversaries - Bush Music Club's 2nd Anniversary, 1956 - Fran Shaw's Song Sheets, Part 2

Fran Shaw's Songsheets, Part 3. Miscellaneous sets & papers (including the 6 mystery songs) -songsheets-part-3.html

Fran Shaw's Songsheets - Part 4. Camp Songs, Dept of Education, Phys Education Branch

Fran Shaw's Songsheets - Part 5, Talks on bush music

Sandra Nixon
Hon. Secretary, Archivist & Librarian
Bush Music Club Inc, Founded 1954
GPO Box 433, Sydney 2001
Website -
blog -
Youtube -
Email -

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

‘A Factory Lad: The Songs of Colin Dryden' by Daniel Kelly out now!

As promised in a previous post on this project, the full album is now available to listen to free on YouTube:

It is also available to stream/purchase on most of the digital platforms (iTunes/Amazon/Google/Spotify/etc) - search for 'A Factory Lad'.

Daniel will be launching the album at Yazzbar, Yass, on Friday, 23rd August. Facebook event details here:

He will have a handful of physical CD's available at the event and people can contact him on admin@folklounge.orgif they would like to buy a physical copy and have it sent to them ($20). 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019


Verandah music afloat – why not? Here’s a lovely blues on the river shanty boats by Jimmy Murphy, recorded in 1951, Knoxville, Tennessee.

This site is also the home of a great folklife project, ‘A Secret History of American River People: the lost narratives of river people, river communities, and the river itself’. And they’ve built their own shanty boat which they sail around the rivers collecting, documenting and learning …

Saturday, June 22, 2019


Boater-style cabbage-tree hat, MAAS

Sue Brian divulges all the secrets of this traditional craft – along with some fascinating yarns about Norfolk Island -  on the Verandah Music Youtube channel

Thursday, June 13, 2019


The current edition of the National Library’s magazine, Unbound, holds a feast of verandah music:
Salvatore Rossano writes about Italian traditions in Australia

Salvatore Rossano, Angelo and Dora Marchese, Melbourne, 2017

Barry York writes on the life and achievements of the late Australian bluesman, Peter Gelling
Barry York, Peter Gelling and Blues Band Blind Freddy, 1995

Jennifer Gall looks at domestic music in colonial house museums

J.R.B., Mary Cunningham, Griselda Dorothy Cunningham, T.J., Unity Alexandra Cunningham, A.C. and Alexander William Cunningham, Tuggeranong, between 1910 and 1914.


Monday, June 3, 2019


Colin Dryden by Daniel Kelly
Some readers of this blog will remember the enigmatic Colin Dryden from the early years of the Sydney and Melbourne folk scenes. Colin was a prodigiously talented guitarist and singer, equally adept at traditional and contemporary British folk, as well as blues. He was later a member of the experimental fusion band, Extradition.

Yass songwriter and singer, Daniel Kelly, has a research and recording project going on Colin’s life and legacy. You can read all about it, starting at

If you have any memories, or better yet, recordings, of Colin in action, Daniel would love to hear from you as he winds up the project with a planned CD of his own interpretations of Colin Dryden’s core repertoire.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019


Gay Charmers at Jamberoo
In 2001, the Jamberoo Folk Festival featured two concerts by traditional performers, including Bill Case, Lola Wright, Eileen McCoy and many more. Long sleeping in the National Library’s Oral History and Folklore Collection, the full recordings, together with interviews and talks by Edgar Waters, Mark Cranfield and Robyn Holmes are now available online at

Edgar Waters, Mark Cranfield and Robyn Holmes, National Library of Australia
Click on the link above, then click on this logo"
 This will take you to a user agreement, at the bottom of which is a green ‘I accept’ button, click that and it takes you straight to the list of the sessions, starting with the first one. Just click on the arrow at the right-hand side of each item to hear the riches within.

Bill Case and Rob Willis


 Here’s a reply to the Gundagai post, from Rob Willis:

Buried within 25 metres of each other in the Forbes cemetery are the remains of two of Australia’s best known bushranger dynasties, Ben Hall and Kate Kelly, the (in)famous sister of Ned.  Not buried however are the songs, poems and stories of these people along with the other well known bushrangers Frank Gardiner, Johnny Gilbert and of course stories and songs of the famous Escort Gold Robbery, the richest robbery in Australian history.  The Ben Hall  bushranger ballads are recognised as among the best in our folk song tradition. ‘The Streets of Forbes’ is probably Australia’s best known and most sung bushranger ballad. 

The cause of all this bushranging activity was the rich Lachlan (Forbes) diggings and here again we have a large number of songs, yarns and poems reflecting on this 1860’s era.  Thankfully many of these have been preserved in our National Library of Australia (NLA), Folklore collection.

After the gold petered out agricultural enterprise took over.  The poetry and songs of shearers, drovers, and women and men on the land that mention the Lachlan are numerous, what bush band worth its salt has not performed ‘The Lachlan Tigers’. “Hurrah for the Lachlan, “Across the Western Plains” are well known lines from other folk ballads.

From the gold rush to the golden age of wool, the Lachlan inspired the writings of Henry Lawson (whose birth was registered in Forbes), Banjo Paterson, Breaker Morant, Will Ogilvie and Paul Wenz.  Morant, Ogilvie and Wenz actually worked and wrote in the area.

Traditional music and dance – the regional, collected tunes of Harry Schaefer, Colin Charlton, Dave Mathias, Ebb Wren and others are played by musicians inAustralia and even worldwide.

There is also a strong regional dance tradition that has been recorded. 
Thankfully, many of these tunes, stories and dances are also preserved in the NLA collection.

Tales of ‘characters’ from our area have been recounted in books authored by Banjo Paterson and other writers and Graham Seal is on record saying that the Lachlan is a ‘land of legends’

I rest my case.

Saturday, May 11, 2019


The tucker box statue before the snappy recent one, photographed in 1926
The small town on the Murrumbidgee River has always been well placed to become a folklore hub. Established from around 1830, it was a natural meeting and stopping place for travelers of all kinds, including bullockies, overlanders, riverboaters, hawkers and people coming and going for whatever reasons.

Aboriginal traditions are strong on the ground, including bunyips, spirit dogs and other ghostly figures. There are lots of bushranger connections, a few gold rushes and lots of floods, including one Australia’s worst natural disasters, the big flood of 1852 that swept the town away and killed more than 70 people. 

The shearing song ‘Lazy Harry’s’, in its numerous versions, is well known, aided by a thumping melody. ‘Flash Jack’ the shearer comes from Gundagai and, of course, Jack O’Hagan’s composition ‘On the Road to Gundagai’ has remained a hit ever since it was composed in the 1920s.

Most familiar, of course, will be the famous dog and whatever it did on or in the tuckerbox at Gundagai, as the bullocky who tells the dismal tale put it:

I can forgive the blinking team I can forgive the rain,
I can forgive the dark and cold and go through it again,
I can forgive my rotten luck but hang me till I die,
I can’t forgive that bloody dog nine miles from Gundagai.

Less well-known is the legend of the ‘Gundagai cat’ that links the town back to the earliest days of convictism …

The Golden Grove was one of the First Fleet store shipssometimescalled ‘the Noah’s Ark of Australia’ due to the number and variety of livestock she conveyed to Botany Bay, including ‘one bull, four cows, and one calf; one stallion, three mares, and three colts; one ram, eleven sheep, and eight lambs; one billy-goat, four nanny goats, and three kids; one boar, five sows, and a litter of 14 pigs; nine different sorts of dogs; and seven cats’. 

In the 1870s it was said that one of these First Fleet cats was still living in at the amazing age of one hundred years at the New South Wales town of Gundagai. The centenarian moggy was so aloof she would only eat pork sausages. By the 1920s, the feline was said to have reached the even more advanced age of 190 years. This assertion was published in at least one English newspaper and picked up and reprinted in the American and Australian press. While the American’s swallowed the tale whole, the factoid was properly dismissed by Gundagai locals as what in those days was called a ‘mare’s nest’, meaning a grossly inaccurate claim, what we might today call an urban legend or just fake news. 

What a town! Have you got a better contender for Australia's folklore capital?